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Planning for (Instead of Waiting for) Mental Health Crisis

A Wellness Recovery Action Plan can be very helpful for helping someone who is struggling with mental illness, especially how to prevent or intervene in times of crisis. Sometimes the person struggling doesn't want help, but it can be empowering for you to have plan and to share that plan with their support system. This helps to decrease the mental load on you particularly at times when emotions run high.

The best case scenario is that your loved one is involved in this process, that this is a shared document, but that isn't always the case. Keep copies with people who may need the information to assist in their care. Even storing this online or on your phone can help you reference and update information quickly.

Psychiatric Advance Directives

A psychiatric advance directive (PAD) is a legal document that documents a person’s preferences for future mental health treatment, and allows appointment of a health proxy to interpret those preferences during a crisis. PADs may be drafted when a person is well enough to consider preferences for future mental health treatment. PADs are used when a person becomes unable to make decisions during a mental health crisis. Learn more.


In some cases, a person who is suicidal refuses to seek or accept treatment. They may engage in self-harm, risky behaviors and multiple suicide attempts. Learn how a conservatorship might be helpful.


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